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Current climate change encompasses global warming and its effects on Earth‘s atmospheric circulation. There have been past periods of climate change, but the recent rise in global average temperature is faster and is primarily the result of human activity.
See the fact file below for more information on Climate Change or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Climate Change worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The increased use of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution added greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Agriculture, industrial operations, and forest loss have more minor impacts.
- Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere by absorbing heat emitted by the Earth and trapping it near the surface. Greenhouse gas emissions intensify this process, allowing the Earth to absorb more solar energy than it can reflect into space.
- Deserts are growing due to climate change, and heat waves and wildfires are becoming increasingly prevalent. Heating in the Arctic has led to permafrost melting, glacier retreat, and sea ice loss. Rising temperatures also cause more violent storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events.
- Before the 1980s, it was unknown if rising greenhouse gas emissions would outweigh aerosol-induced cooling. Scientists coined the phrase “inadvertent climate modification” to describe the human effect on the climate during that time.
- The words climate change and global warming became popular in the 1980s. The former relates to increased surface heat, whereas the latter describes the real impact of greenhouse gases on the weather.
- After NASA climate scientist James Hansen used the phrase “global warming” in his 1988 testimony in the United States, it became the most used word. The term “climate change” became more prevalent in the 2000s.
- Global warming is commonly used to describe human-caused warming of the Earth system, although climate change can refer to either natural or human evolution. Both names are frequently used interchangeably.
- Several scientists, politicians, and media leaders have used the phrases climate crisis or climate emergency to refer to climate change and global heating rather than global warming. The Guardian’s policy editor-in-chief stated that this statement was added in their editorial rules “to guarantee that we are being scientifically exact, but also communicating effectively with readers on this fundamental matter.”
- Oxford Languages named climate emergency the 2019 word of the year, describing it as “a scenario in which urgent action is essential to minimize or prevent climate change and avert possibly irreparable environmental harm.”
DRIVERS OF RECENT TEMPERATURE RISE
- The climate system goes through many cycles that span years (such as the El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)), decades, or even centuries.
- Other changes result from an energy imbalance “outer” to the climate system but not always external to the Earth. Shifts in greenhouse gas concentrations, solar brightness, volcanic eruptions, and fluctuations in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun are examples of external forcings.
- Internal climatic variability and natural external forces must be ruled out before determining the human contribution to climate change. A vital technique is to identify distinct “fingerprints” for each proposed cause and then relate these fingerprints to observable patterns of climate change.
- Solar forcing, for example, can be ruled out as a critical driver, and its imprint would cause warming across the whole atmosphere. However, only the lower atmosphere has warmed, as predicted by greenhouse gas forcing.
- The attribution of current climate change reveals that increasing greenhouse gases are the primary cause, with aerosols mitigating the effect.
- Climate change has far-reaching environmental consequences, impacting seas, ice, and weather. Changes can transpire slowly or quickly; evidence for these consequences comes from historical climate change research, modeling, and present observations.
- Droughts and heat waves have emerged with increasing regularity since the 1950s. Extremely wet or dry occurrences have become more common in India and East Asia during the monsoon season. In reaction to climate change, typhoons and hurricanes’ rainfall rate and severity are projected to increase, and their geographic range is likely to spread poleward.
- Climate warming has not increased the frequency of tropical cyclones.
- The global sea level is rising due to glacial melt, ice sheet melt in Greenland and Antarctica, and thermal expansion. The rise increased with time, averaging 3.3 0.3 mm per year between 1993 and 2020.
- The IPCC foresees that the sea level will rise by 61-110 cm in a very high emissions scenario during the next century. Increased ocean warming is eroding and threatening to disconnect Antarctic glacier outlets, triggering a massive melt of the ice sheet and a 2-meter rise in sea level by 2100 under high emissions schemes.
- Climate change has led to decades of diminishing and thinner Arctic sea ice. While ice-free summers are projected to be unusual at 1.5 °C of warming, they are expected to happen once every three to ten years at 2°C.
- An increase in dissolved CO2 is causing ocean acidification. Oxygen levels are falling because oxygen is less soluble in warm water. The ocean’s dead zones, or areas with little oxygen, are spreading.
TIPPING POINT AND LONG-TERM IMPACTS
- Greater degrees of global warming raise the possibility of crossing ‘tipping points,’ or thresholds beyond which some repercussions cannot be prevented even if temperatures are decreased.
- The destruction of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is one example where a 1.5 to 2 °C temperature rise may commit the ice sheets to melt. However, the time scale of melting is unpredictable and relies on future warming. Some large-scale changes, such as the shutdown of particular ocean currents, such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, might occur quickly (AMOC).
- Tipping points in ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs can also occur.
- Long-term climate change implications include further glacier melting, ocean warming, rising sea levels, and acidification of the oceans. It will dictate climate change mainly through artificial CO2 emissions over timescales ranging from hundreds to millennia.
- It is because CO2 has a lengthy atmospheric lifespan. Because oceanic CO2 absorption is sluggish, ocean acidification will persist for hundreds to thousands of years.
- These emissions have added at least 100,000 years to the present interglacial era. Sea level rise will continue for millennia, with an expected increase of 2.3 meters per degree Celsius (4.2 feet per degree Fahrenheit) after 2000 years.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
- Recent warming has moved several lands and aquatic species poleward and upward. Higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere and a longer growing season have led to worldwide greening. Heat waves and drought have lowered ecological production in certain areas. How will we balance these impacts?
- Climatic change has aided the spread of drier climate zones, such as the spread of deserts in the subtropics. Because of the magnitude and pace of global warming, sudden changes in ecosystems are becoming more likely. Many species are anticipated to become extinct as a result of climate change.
- Although the waters have warmed more gradually than the land, animals and plants in the ocean, have moved to the frigid poles quicker than terrestrial species. Heat waves in the water are becoming more often due to climate change, threatening various creatures such as corals, seaweed, and seabirds.
- Ocean acidification makes it more complicated for organisms like mussels, barnacles, and corals to produce shells and skeletons, and heat waves have scrubbed coral reefs. Harmful algal blooms heightened by climate change and eutrophication, lesser oxygen levels disturb food webs and result in significant loss of marine life.
- Coastal environments are particularly vulnerable. Because of climate change and other human activities, over half of the world’s wetlands have vanished.
- Climate change has had an impact on humanity all across the planet. Warming and changes in precipitation mainly cause them.
- Impacts may already be seen on all continents and ocean basins, with low-latitude, less industrialized places particularly vulnerable.
- Continued warming might have “severe, widespread, and permanent consequences” for people and ecosystems. The dangers are unevenly distributed, although disadvantaged persons in developing and wealthy nations face higher risks.
- People face food and water shortages, more significant flooding, excessive heat, increased sickness, and economic loss due to climate change. Human migration and violence are also possible outcomes.
- Climate change is viewed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most significant danger to world health in the twenty-first century.
IMPACTS ON PEOPLE
- Environmental migration: Less rainfall causes desertification, which damages agriculture and can cause human displacement.
- Droughts, increasing temperatures, and harsh weather all negatively influence agriculture.
- Tidal flooding: As sea levels rise, flooding in low-lying coastal areas rises.
- Storm intensification: Cyclone Sidr (2007) in Bangladesh is an example of devastating floods caused by increasing rainfall.
- Heatwave intensification: Events like the European heat wave of June 2019 are becoming more prevalent.
REDUCING AND RECAPTURING EMISSIONS
- We can reduce climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving sinks that collect greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Global greenhouse gas emissions must be net-zero by 2050 or by 2070 with a 2-degree Celsius objective to impede global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius with a high chance of success.
- It necessitates massive structural changes in energy, land, cities, transportation, buildings, and industry. The UN Environment Programme states their Paris Agreement pledges over the next decade to limit global warming to 2°C. An even more significant decrease is necessary to attain the 1.5 °C targets.
- With promises made under the Agreement as of October 2021, global warming has a 66% likelihood of hitting 2.7 degrees Celsius (range: 2.2-3.2 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century.
- Although there is no one solution to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, most scenarios and plans include a significant rise in the usage of renewable energy in conjunction with more substantial energy efficiency measures to provide the required greenhouse gas reductions.
- Changes in forestry and agriculture, such as eliminating deforestation and rebuilding natural ecosystems through reforestation, would also be required to lessen stresses on ecosystems and improve their carbon sequestration capacity.
- Other ways of climate change mitigation carry a higher level of danger. Scenarios restraining global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius predict the widespread deployment of carbon dioxide removal technologies in the twenty-first century. However, there are worries regarding over-reliance on these technologies and their environmental consequences.
- Solar radiation management (SRM) is another option for supplementing substantial emission cuts. SRM, on the other hand, would create severe ethical and legal concerns, and the consequences are little known.
- Climate demonstrations call on political leaders to take action to combat climate change. They can take the shape of public protests, divestment from fossil fuels, litigation, and other initiatives.
- The School Strike for Climate is one of the most visible demonstrations. Since 2018, young people worldwide have been protesting by skipping school on Fridays, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.
- Extinction Rebellion and other organizations have protested by shutting down highways and public transportation. Litigation is increasingly being utilized to strengthen climate action by public institutions and businesses.
- Activists also filed lawsuits against governments, demanding they take bold action or enforce current climate change legislation. In general, lawsuits against fossil-fuel businesses seek monetary compensation for loss and harm.
Climate Change Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about climate change across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Climate change worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about climate change, which is the umbrella term for the shift in worldwide weather phenomena associated with the increase in global atmospheric temperature. These anthropogenic phenomena can cause severe droughts, extreme weather and temperature in both hemispheres, loss of wildlife habitat and threaten food security.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Climate Change Facts
- Be Waste Free!
- Helpful or Hurtful
- Greenhouse Gases
- Impacts of Climate Change
- The Hows of Climate
- Through My Poem
- Climate v. Weather
- Word Hunt
- Change for Climate
- Faces of Tomorrow
Frequently Asked Questions
What is climate change?
Current climate change encompasses global warming and its effects on Earth’s atmospheric circulation.
What is the difference between global warming and climate change?
Global warming is commonly used to describe human-caused warming of the Earth system, although climate change can refer to either natural or human evolution. Both names are frequently used interchangeably.
What are the long-term effects of climate change?
Long-term climate change implications include further glacier melt, ocean warming, rising sea levels, and acidification of the oceans. Will dictate climate change mainly through artificial CO2 emissions over timescales ranging from hundreds to millennia.
Who is most at risk from the impacts of climate change?
Climate change has impacted humanity all across the planet, and warming and changes in precipitation mainly cause them. Consequences may already be seen on all continents and ocean basins, with low-latitude, less industrialized places particularly vulnerable.
How can we reduce the risks of climate change?
We can reduce climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving sinks that collect greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Global greenhouse gas emissions must be net-zero by 2050 or by 2070 with a 2-degree Celsius objective to impede global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius with a high chance of success.
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Link will appear as Climate Change Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 19, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.